I'm Not Surprised by Verizon's and Google's Mobile Wallet Spat

So it is being reported this week that Verizon Wireless is blocking Google Wallet​ from being pre-installed on Nexus smartphones on its network, and also from being downloaded by its subscribers from the Android Market.

All I can really say is, "Why is anyone surprised by this?" Verizon is investing heavily in its own mobile payment platform, Isis,with its MNO partners at AT&T and T-Mobile. Why would it promote a rival service ahead of its own launch? Yes, you can argue that by enabling Google Wallet, Verizon will be promoting the wider awareness and usage of NFC and contactless payments. But when have MNOs ever looked at it like that? Anywhere?

Possibly sensing a backlash from the media and possibly also end-users, Verizon has now been reported as citing technical and security issues relating to the secure element. Specifically, it was quoted as saying "Google Wallet does not simply access the operating system and basic hardware of our phones like thousands of other applications. Instead, in order to work as architected by Google, Google Wallet needs to be integrated into a new, secure and proprietary hardware element in our phones."

There may be something I don't know but my instant reaction here is "What, you men like every other NFC-based payment service, Google Wallet needs a secure element? You don't say??" This might be particularly ironic given that Verizonoperates a cdma network, and doesn't therefore use SIM cards, which is the primary alternative for housing the secure element (as opposed to the handset itself).

The keyword in the statement might be "proprietary" or perhaps it is the fact that Google would effectively own the secure element that concerns Verizon. Either way, this highlights the on-going business-related barriers which have blighted and delayed NFC since someone first suggested making contactless payments with a mobile device. Hopefully a spirit of cooperation, interoperability and openess will prevail soon enough, but for now expect more of the above.